Of course, we don’t have Haanel here as a reference. We can take the message of the book as a whole as clues to what he meant exactly, though.
The world within is one’s mind. It’s one’s thoughts. It’s one’s feelings. As Haanel wrote, it’s forces are mighty — mightier than we think.
The world without, on the other hand, Haanel described as a “reflection of the world within.”
I would make a slight change to that. I would say that the world without is or can be jaded or slanted or skewed by the world within.
The difference is small, but it is significant as we progress in our studies of this philosophy.
The world within can — and often does — alter the world without. Actually, it happens all the time. It’s part of the interplay that happens betwixt the two. It’s what I like to call the “Dance.”
Investor George Soros used Karl Popper‘s theory of “Reflexivity” to make more than a billion dollars trading currency. Popper’s reflexivity is an example of the Dance — the world within influencing the world without and vice versa.
The influence of the world without and the world within (and vice versa) is possible because, as Haanel wrote, we “live in a fathomless sea of plastic mind substance.”
I want to state here that this “plastic mind substance” is not and is not anything related to quantum theory, subatomic particles, or man’s mental influence on said particles as has been portrayed in various movies and books. Personal Development (the attainment of goals within our society) and quantum physics go together much like fish and bicycles. They don’t.
That being said, everything that we see and have and that moves us and influences us are ideas.
This world of ideas — this world in which we swim and which in turn moves us — is what Haanel meant when he wrote “plastic mind substance.” Think how often the world is changed by an idea — an idea that is brought to fruition by one’s actions and daring.
The car, the light bulb, the indoor toilet, the computer, the cellular phone: All ideas that in turn changed us and changed the world in which we “swim.”